It’s almost impossible to talk about Black Mirror without discussing technology as a whole. How it changes the game of life. How it simplifies day to day life. Why it complicates everything else. Just like technology, the cautionary discourse is almost inescapable.
First off, I adore the title. Black Mirror. On a literal level, it refers to our shiny, black and chrome devices. Metaphorically, it refers to what these devices are made to do: reflect our consciousness. But do they really? Black Mirror asks this and every other question under the sun about what technology is capable of doing. To follow up, what it’s capable of becoming. Like most sci-fi, Black Mirror pushes technology forward until it engulfs humanity in its cold metallic arms. But the story doesn’t feel cold, at least not till the end.
“No one is this happy.”
Of course, this isn’t really a story, but stories. It’s an anthology show, hence all the Twilight Zone comparisons. Each story tackles a different anxiety in the thick of a tech-obsessed society. It’d be easy to call Charlie Brooker a horrible cynic, but it just isn’t true. All of Booker’s stories display the good and the bad, the risks and rewards to a sleek and shiny technological world. The message is simply that anything can be taken too far, that we can be destroyed by our own devices.
Black Mirror matches a sleekish future with the everyday civilian. When we see ground breaking devices in the hands of the everyman, we learn immediately that we’re in a passively technological future. More than once, this device is a sort of implant, usually in the eyes. A mesh of machine and flesh. It’s futuristic, it’s revolutionary, it’s terrifying. Especially since we relate strongly with the characters. Despite a dystopian future, Black Mirror‘s conflicts are largely domestic and interpersonal. We understand that the stakes are less about the downfall of civilization and more about the breakdown of a specific individual. This helps Black Mirror feel intimate. Even claustrophobic.
“In this world, we’re all so caught up in our own heads, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s real.”
Black Mirror evades clunky exposition almost entirely. Each story follows a different set of rules, yet we learn them almost exclusively through visuals and plot. There’s no text reading “The year is 20XX”. It feels far more organic. This is helped by the everyman character, as they find themselves thrust into this brave new world. They ask all the questions we do, with astute timing too.
It’s hard to differentiate Season 3 from Seasons 1 & 2. It’s just as wild and inventive as previous seasons. The upside is there’s twice as many episodes. So it’s basically two seasons in one! It makes perfect sense since this is one of the easiest shows on Netflix to binge. Which is ironic for a show devoid of cliffhangers. Each story is its own self-contained world that speaks the same message through a new lens. I suppose that’s just good writing for you.
My Rating: 9/10